Nevada Senator, Safety Advocates Push for Stronger Law
A bill working its way through the Nevada legislature would revamp child automotive safety laws.
Senate Bill 156 would, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal, require children younger than eight years and less than 57 inches tall to be secured in a restraint system when riding in a motor vehicle. This represents an expansion of the current law, which covers children younger than six years. The bill also requires children younger than 13 to always ride in the back seat.
The new law would also make failing to secure a child in a motor vehicle a primary offense, meaning law enforcement could issue citations even if there is no other alleged violation. Current Nevada law states such citations can only be issued when a driver is stopped for another offense.
SB156’s proposed rules match national safety standards and standards found in 23 other states, the report notes. The bill’s sponsor, Nevada State Sen. Joyce Woodhouse (D – Henderson) said the bill improves children’s safety in the state.
Woodhouse spoke before the Nevada Senate Committee on Transportation on March 9, 2017, extolling the need for stricter legislation.
“Motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death among children in the United States,” Woodhouse said. “In 2014, 602 children ages 12 years and younger died as occupants in motor vehicle crashes, and more than 121,350 children ages 12 years and younger were injured in the United States. Many of these deaths could have been prevented simply by using appropriate child restraint systems.”
Jeanne Cosgrove Marsala of safety advocacy group Safe Kids Clark County said front seat airbags can kill children riding in the front seat. However, current Nevada law lets children ride in the front seat.
Heather Watson, child passenger safety technician instructor and Safe Kids Clark County president said in testimony to the Nevada State Senate 71% of parents don’t know a child should be 4’9” or taller to ride in a seat belt with no additional restraint or booster seat.
Watson said a child’s developing skeletal structure can be damaged by seatbelts if used without booster seats.
“The belt-positioning booster’s job is to boost a child up into a more favorable position for the safety belt to do its job: restrain the child safely,” Watson said. “The lap belt will fit low on the hips, touching the thighs, the shoulder belt will fit across the shoulder providing upper body restraint. Boosters reduce the overall risk of injury by 45%. Children in side impacts benefit the most by seeing a 68% reduction in injury in near-side impacts and an 82% reduction in injury in far-side impacts. This is significant.”